Saturday, May 12, 2012

A short trip

I got on a bus yesterday, heading north to visit Eldest for the weekend. This morning I am miraculously, happily, peacefully ensconced in the guest room at my wonderful friend Kate's. She and I had a good supper and a looong chat last night.

The rest of the family has been shuttled about to do their various things: Little Guy is on a campout with the Cub Scouts, Snuggler has a sleepover tonight that's framed by soccer practice/soccer game, and Dancer went to a show last night after ballet/rehearsal and is performing tonight after ballet/rehearsal. Andrew and Big Guy are lying low, probably sleeping in.

Coordinating all the comings and goings of my crew is less complicated than it used to be. When the kids were really little, everyone went everywhere we went. And we went a lot of places; life was like Make Way for Ducklings: the Field Trip Edition. People used to ask, "How do you get them all out of the house?" The answer was that I was fortunate to have met a woman in my early motherhood who'd taken her three boys to Paris. When I gaped she confided, "It's really not all that much more work than going grocery shopping. Except the food's better and you're happy to be there." And I thought Yes, that makes sense. It makes sense to put my energy into getting us out of the house to a place where we'll all be engaged and interested, instead of investing my energy in keeping the peace between restless kids within four walls. It's way less work to deal with logistics than it is to deal with bored or disappointed kids.

The hard phase was when they were all old enough to be involved in their own activities, but none of them were old enough to travel independently. That took significant logistical gymnastics, which I've written about in Crossword Puzzle Parenting.

And now? Now even Little Guy is happy to trot off on his own. The other day we were coming home from robotics and I mentioned that school was out. He loves to hang out in the schoolyard with his buddies, so he said, "Already? I want to go!" We were a good four blocks away from the school, and I said, "Wait! I need to know that you can cross streets safely!" As he took off he called over his shoulder, "Just watch me!"

(I should mention that our neighborhood is almost entirely residential, and traffic is minimal. He was fine.) Little Guy is right: he does know how to cross streets safely. Watching him run down the sidewalk I could feel us crossing into a new territory, one filled with big kids who don't need Mom in the same way. That is a little sad, but also very good. 

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